yams yams yams
February 18, 2003 7:45 PM   Subscribe

Yams, yams, yams. Immortalized by Michelle Shocked's song about the Yamboree Queen. (Which I always thought was a joke, stupid me.) It turns out that most yams are really Sweet Potatoes although yam-sweetpotatoes are also different from regular sweet pototes. The confusion is much more widespread than my own Wabash Valley inflicted confusion between mangos and green bell peppers. Yam sweet-potatoes are a good source of fiber, beta carotene and vitamin C if prepared fresh. True Mexican wild yam was used as a raw material for birth control pills and is still claimed to useful for medicinal purposes.
posted by KirkJobSluder (16 comments total)
Hm. My ex-girlfriend's grandmother, who was from rural Illinois, called bell peppers "mangos." I always thought it was just her.
posted by sklero at 8:06 PM on February 18, 2003

I recal that in Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man, the hero, a black from the deep South has moved to Harlem (NY), and is filled with pretentions, emulating whitey. Finally, walking down the steet one day, sniffing the yams (hot) sold from a pushcart, he buys one and gorges himself on it, saying "I yam what I yam," a takeoff perhaps on Popeye, and a return to his real self.
posted by Postroad at 8:08 PM on February 18, 2003

I like the Korean (Japanese) sweet potato. Yummy when roasted.
posted by Plunge at 8:16 PM on February 18, 2003

In my family we stew the yam/sweet potato and eat it piping hot, mashed up with cold milk. Particular to our rural Mexican heritage or a common eating technique?
posted by lychee at 8:22 PM on February 18, 2003

One of my cousins (a second) is an official Sweet Potato Queen. Actually, the chief one. Just had to throw that in.
posted by raysmj at 8:23 PM on February 18, 2003

Please, please don't forget to visit Eyam, the world's largest online yam retailer. ("100% Sorcery Free")
posted by argybarg at 9:22 PM on February 18, 2003

don't forget about the Mountain Goats, too.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:19 PM on February 18, 2003

What?! We have a Tammy relation, ri'chere on our very own Metafilter? You should take advantage of this, raysmj--I know quite a few women who would do anything for the chance to get in with Jill.

Everyone knows, by the way, that the only REAL way to eat sweet potatoes is to go to Florida, stick some mashed ones in a glass cassarole dish, top 'em with mini-marshmallows, and bake the whole thing til it's gooey.
posted by hippugeek at 10:22 PM on February 18, 2003

Everyone knows, by the way, that the only REAL way to eat sweet potatoes is to

... scrub down well, and while still rather wet, wrap in aluminum foil. Slap onto a moderately warm part of your barbecue grill. Cook, flipping frequently to prevent burned spots, until the potato has a good deal of yield when squeezed with your barbeque tongs. Open as you would a foil-wrapped white potato, slap on some butter, nutmeg, a smattering of cinnamon, a sprinkle of salt and a healthy dose of freshly ground black pepper. Inhale deeply, swoon, then revive yourself and eat.

Requires absolutely no other accompaniment, if the potato is big enough it can be a meal in and of itself.
posted by Dreama at 10:47 PM on February 18, 2003

Yams in art.
posted by misteraitch at 11:46 PM on February 18, 2003

Sadly enough, Karen Finley was the first thing to jump to my mind as well.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 3:39 AM on February 19, 2003

Queen Yam, meet Miss Potato Blossom. I ask you, does a yam goddess have this kind of talent?

Interesting post KirkJobSluder. No longer one of the ignorant masses, I am now one of the yam-literate who can distinguish a yam from a sweet potato.
posted by madamjujujive at 5:50 AM on February 19, 2003

In Nigeria, yams (that is "real" yams, not sweet potatoes) are something of an obsession in addition to being a primary food source. The variety of dishes produced from yam is astounding (for recipies go here and here). My favorite is amala, made from elubo or yam flour, eaten with ewedu soup, made from tomatoes, peppers, a green vegetable that produces an okra-like sliminess.

Culturally, many ethnic groups in Nigeria celebrate festivals in honor of the yam, especially when the new yam is harvested. And some believe that the massive consumption of yams is responsible for the high occurence of twin births in certain parts of Nigeria.
posted by vitpil at 6:45 AM on February 19, 2003

Have you ever tried em fried?....mmmmm yummy!
posted by SweetIceT at 7:06 AM on February 19, 2003

My family is also from southern rural Ohio. I thought my mother was the only person who 'confused' mangoes and green peppers.
posted by marsha56 at 9:04 PM on February 20, 2003

Sweet potato with crushed cayenne pepper, sauteed in olive oil haunts my dreams. Little something we picked up from the Red Wagon.
posted by mikrophon at 11:22 AM on March 5, 2003

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